Tuesday, 20 December 2016


The Fellowship Christmas Bash
Where to start?

OK, we had an epic day out in London for the annual Fellowship of the Stick Christmas bash, indeed, the Elves were out to play, complete this year with Santa’s own security guard and official photographer, Alex.

The Elves are coming!
In a nutshell, we visited Euston to the Bree Louise and the new beer lounge at the Euston Tap (Opposite the Euston Tap), we caught a bus from Euston to Tottenham Court Road, we listened to an excellent busker, we had a special Christmas meal in the Montague Pike, we went to The Pillars of Hercules and then the Crobar before slipping in to the Borderline for a most wonderful evening with many friends to see the Heather Findlay band supporting the newly revamped Touchstone, we had a fun journey home on the train, along the way there were many free hugs, “Happy Christmases” games of pat-a-cake and community carol singing on the tube, phew! All of this is ‘captured’ as usual in the epic tale below.

So, to the music, firstly the Heather Findlay Band, stripped down and acoustic, playing songs from her (now) extensive back catalogue, the new album and some old Mostly Autumn numbers plus some traditional Yuletide songs, a pure delight especially with Sarah Dean (The Incredible String Blonde) on harp, simply exquisite.

The Heather Findlay Band
Touchstone are back, and how! 
Comparisons to the ‘old’ Touchstone will inevitably be made, I heard someone say “They are the same but different”, I would tend to disagree, they are not the same, they are however still very much unmistakably Touchstone but they are different and I must say refreshingly and excitingly so.
Aggie’s vocals are very different from Kim’s, Liam’s keyboards are integral to the Touchstone sound but at times are beautifully understated rather than leading.
I felt the band were now much more guitar led by Adam (& by gosh can he play!) with Moo and Hen’s extremely tight rhythms and Moo admirably taking on the male vocal leads.
Personally I loved the new, rockier, raunchier, heavier direction that is still unmistakably Touchstone and judging by the audience reaction so did most of the crowd there that night, the new EP, Lights From The Sky is absolutely stunning.
If evolution is all about adapting to change, surviving, getting stronger, moving forward, all I can say is that in my humble opinion, Touchstone have evolved and how!


The Return of the National Elf Service
(The Fellowship Christmas / Touchstone Bash)

I see no Elves!
It must be that time of year again
4 elves and Santa’s security on the train
London bound for the Fellowship Christmas bash
OK, so it’s just five good friends out on the lash
But it’s such good fun it’s almost insane!

The Bree Louise Beer Board
Finsbury Park sucked us into the tube
Deep underground all the way to Euston
Such fun, deep down below, Pat-a-cake anyone?
And where did we head off to first if you please?
Why of course to the wonderful Bree Louise
Before a visit to the newly refurbished Euston Tap
Just opposite the Euston Tap, well how about that?

AWS Spiralling out of control!
Spiral stairs presented photo opportunities
And a chance for a chat with some poor chap
Before the five of us were off again by bus
Without a trouble or care, we were off to Leicester Square 
Or more precisely Tottenham Court Road
For indeed now was the time for food
Festive fare for our delight
It had to be in the Montague Pike

We saw a fair busker along the way
So stopped so we could hear her play
She was in fact extremely good
So of course she deserved a Christmas hug!

Busking the way it should be done.
Weatherspoon’s finest Turkey pies
Materialised before our eyes
With lashings of gravy and chips and peas 
After which it was off once more
To that fine old pub the Pillars of Hercules
Before a stroll which is in fact not very far
Past the Borderline to the Crowbar
Imitation JD at half the price
Mmmmmmm nice!

Elves on a bus?
Meeting up with lots of friends from CRF and beyond
This day was well and truly completely ‘On song’
The Borderline was a sea of Christmas hats
All nodding towards the front and the stage 
Where at first in support of this fine evening
The Heather Findlay band played

An acoustic set with Sarah Dean, on Harp 
Once again The Incredible String Blonde stole my heart
While the others sat or drank or danced
I stood transfixed completely entranced
But the best was surely yet to come
In the form of the newly revamped Touchstone

Sarah Dean
There may be no more Cotters or Kim 
But there’s Aggie on vocals and on keyboards Liam
A strong fine voice and melodic keys 
Oh yes yes yes give me more of this please
Touchstone are back and back with a bang
Moo, Adam, Henry & all of the gang
Slightly heavier, more guitar led
Quite simply fantastic, enough said

All too soon it was over and time to say goodbye
“Merry Christmas Everyone” with a tear in our eye
But then there were carols on the tube
“Merry Christmases” on the escalators
Huge yellow dogs on the train home
As has been said before
With The Fellowship you are never alone

Doggie fashion on the train
The National Elf Service will be back soon
But only if Santa says that it’s OK
But until that day finally comes
Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone.

December 2016

Credits: Photographs:- G Meaby, K Blackett, A Wooldridge Smith, C Foskett. Words -: G Meaby December 2016

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


Sing-along-a-Gary & G

Oh what a way for SoundArc live productions to round off this year’s set of acoustic gigs at the Red Lion!

It was indeed a very merry evening of sing along classics delivered in the most enjoyable and inimitable style by Gary Brown (Doing a fine job standing in at the last minute for the poorly Ouse Valley Singles Club) and Mr. Balstock himself, the one and only (Some would say thank goodness for that) G La Roche.

Gary delivered a most enjoyable set with stacks of humour and wonderful banter with the crowd which was, at times, absolutely hilarious, even stealing the odd song off G’s set which was even funnier!

Gary Brown
G kicked off with a marvellous rendition of ACDC’s Thunderstruck after which it all sort of went downhill in the most wonderful and enjoyable way, culminating of course in some of G’s own songs which we know so well but for reasons of public decency cannot be replicated here!

G La Roche
So, thank you Andy Sinclair for putting all the great gigs this year, thank you Gary for making us laugh, thank you G La Roche for not only entertaining us so many times this past year but also for the fabulous work you do for putting on the Balstock Festival year after year and all the other fine work you do in, on, around and for the local music scene, this is, or should be, what IT’s all about!

You bet I was
Why was that?
It was all because
Four of us had come to see
The Ouse Valley Singles Club
And of course G
But the Ouses were sick
Still Andy didn’t let us down
He’d only gone and booked
The one and only Gary Brown
So the evening was saved
As I’m sure you will agree
By a hilarious sing-along a-mayhem 
With Gary & G

Have fun everyone, until the next time, bbfn, the other G
December 2016 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

It's Not All Folk! The Great British Folk Festival, Skegness 2016

It’s Not All Folk
The Great British Folk Festival – Skegness December 2016

A different sort of excursion for us but as Chris and I have so much enjoyed the Folkstock Stage at Balstock these past couple of years it did seem like a natural sort of progression and the fact that two of our favourite ‘Local’ artists were playing, Kelly Oliver and Said the Maiden sealed it for us!

So we were just the Fellowship two but it is quite amazing just who you meet at festivals like this, a contingent of our proggy friends from London non the less which made for a splendid, highly entertaining and yes, of course, boozy festival!

Friday kicked off in style with a stunning performance from Kelly Oliver on the introducing stage, the 4pm first artist to perform slot unfortunately makes ‘winning’ the introducing stage on that day virtually impossible due to the number of people not there yet! Kelly played an exceptionally wonderful set which I’m sure (& judging by the sale of her merch afterwards) certainly won her many new fans and admirers.

Kelly Oliver

After catching the quirky set from Mark Harrison it was time to eat before the evening session which for us started in absolutely fabulous style with Said the Maiden on the main Centre Stage, playing to an almost packed house they absolutely wowed us!
We got into the other main venue, Reds, in time for the last couple of songs from Cara Dillon before a magnificent set from Lindisfarne and topped off the evening watching Los Pacaminos (Featuring Paul Young) – See, it’s not all folk after all, certainly not the ‘finger in the ear’ stuff, in fact quite an eclectic mix of music all round.

Said the Maiden

Saturday Sunrise
Saturday’s musical entertainment started with The Pitmen Poets with their songs about coal mining, shipbuilding, village life in the North East, wonderful stuff, it was then off to Reds to see Gryphon, completely utterly wonderfully bonkers, so good ton see that they have not changed one bit from when I used to see the ‘back in the day’ who’d have ever thought that the Crumhorn and medieval bassoon could make such beautiful music?

The Pitmen Poets
After another huge and filling Butlin’s dinner it was time to catch a lovely set from Sarah Dean (Harpist otherwise known as ‘The Incredible String Blonde’) before squeezing into Centre Stage for David Knopfler and Harry Bogdanovs (Yes the Knopfler that Mark threw out of the band Dire Straits), an OK set but I kept expecting him to burst into Romeo and Juliet, that riff just kept coming back and back!
Highlight of the evening was of course Kate Rusby and her band, she treated us to a very special and magical Christmas set, carols, traditional Yuletide and Wassail  songs, it was absolutely brilliant.

Sarah Dean
How quickly the time passes, suddenly it was Sunday, where did the time go? 
The afternoon kicked off for us with Chris Jagger’s acoustic roots, yes that’s Chris Jagger, Mick’s brother, one of the wonderful things that Chris has done over his musical career is to carve out his own exceptionally good niche in the blues / country / roots scene without capitalising on his brothers fame. With just an amazing fiddle player and double bassist in support he treated us to a fabulous set, if you like the likes of van Morrison, Neil Young etc, then I’ll guarantee you’ll like Chris Jagger.

Chris Jagger's acoustic roots

Next up was Slim Chance, Ronnie Lane’s old band, playing the music of Ronnie Lane, not exactly folk but by heck it was good.

A civilized Sunday afternoon

Killing time between the main afternoon sessions and dinner we wandered into the Skyline Pavilion and the introducing stage and wow! I’m so glad we did, the discovery of the weekend, a breath of fresh air, London’s Crumbling Ghost taking electric folk to new (Metal / Goth) levels, talk about being blown away, they were absolutely fabulous, Richi Jones (Solo guitar, looping and slapping) had such a hard job to follow them but he did OK.

Crumbling Ghost
After another fine dinner the evening session started with Crazy Heart on the introducing stage before Reds and Jona Lewie, him of the Stop the Cavalry and in the Kitchen at Parties fame, sadly he didn’t strike a chord with us so we wandered off to see Kasim Sulton who used to be in Todd Rungren’s Utopia before hightailing it back to Reds for the set of the weekend, the mighty Levellers who were on absolutely cracking form and after which we had neither the energy or enthusiasm to stay up late for any of the final acts.

Crazy Heart

The Levellers
Despite the obvious clashes, once you are resigned to not being able to see everyone and have to make some difficult choices, all in all it was another damn fine festival and one which I’m sure several other members of the fellowship would enjoy as would so many other music fans, you see folks, it’s not all folk!

And was I inspired at all? Of course I was, the Fellowship now have their very own folk song!

The Fellowship Goes Folk

The Fellowship is wonderful
The Fellowship is strong
These pearls of wisdom came unto me
As I wrote this little song

These things
These things I know
Because Fender Bear
Fender Bear
Fender Bear he told me so

For festivals and friendship
For gigs and great days out
There is nothing like the Fellowship
And that’s beyond a doubt

These things
These things I know
Because Fender Bear
Fender Bear
Fender Bear he told me so

Gong brought us all together
In London that fateful day
A chicken Kev on the tube
Sealed our fate in every way

These things
These things I know
Because Fender Bear
Fender Bear
Fender Bear he told me so

Of pirates of onesies and monks
Kilts and corona shirts so proudly worn
We’ve made the odd impression
Wherever we have gone

These things
These things I know
Because Fender Bear
Fender Bear
Fender Bear he told me so

We’ve made so many friends
More than we’d ever thought we’d know
For the Fellowship spreads happiness
Everywhere we go

These things
These things I know
Because Fender Bear
Fender Bear
Fender Bear he told me so

Because Fender Bear, Fender Bear
Fender told me so

Grant Meaby
December 2016

Saturday, 26 November 2016


Rounding off what had been a hectic but very enjoyable week with the 4th gig in 7 days I was somewhat thankful that this one was local!

Once again Andy at SoundArc Promotions had put together an excellent 3 band line up of high energy rock and roll at The Red Lion, Stevenage.

First up were melodic high energy rockers, Brocker, followed by the reformed Kramers with their authentic and original punk and headlining were The Zipheads with their wonderful blend of rockabilly / psychobilly / rock & roll.
As expected the Red was packed for this particular line up which all made for an enjoyable evening and a great atmosphere.



Rocking the Red

Leslie sits at a corner table at the back of the pub
Carefully cradling his Newcastle Brown Ale as he does
Distinctive with his long hair and bushy beard
There are few bands that he hasn’t seen or heard
Tonight may not be his particular sort of music
But he’s usually here supporting the local music scene
Like us, he’s been, around the block a few times!

Once again thanks to Andy and SoundArc Promotions
We have a three band line up to stir the emotions
The melodic post punk high energy rock of Brocker
Kicked the evening of to a fine start
The nostalgic pure punk of the Kramers was not such a world apart
Reformed after a long hiatus they showed us that they can still do it
Just as fresh as back in the day as if there was nothing to it!

The Kramers

The Kramers

What a great gathering of friends, promoters, punters, 
Musicians and members of other bands
Good beer and live rock music go hand in hand
Tonight was no exception with the Zipheads headlining
And with a new album that is just fine
Their psychobilly rock and roll as timeless and relevant as ever
A damn fine night all round
All the better for being at ‘The Red’ as I’m sure you’ll agree
It’s absolutely free, really free, really really really free!

The Zipheads

The Zipheads

Long live rock and roll
As Leslie sits quietly in the corner
Slowly supping his Newcastle Brown
Peter, Chris and me, tired and happy, head for home.

GM November 2016

Oh did I mention that The Zipheads have a new album out? It's called Z2 Rampage and it is excellent:-

Kramer are selling their old CD at a mere £3:00, did I have the heart to tell them I'd very recently picked up a copy in a charity shop for 50P, you bet I did!

Thursday, 24 November 2016


As I type this I am listening to Rejoice I'm Dead! Nice and loud.
Quite simply last night's gig with Zofff supporting was truly magnificent, for me beyond doubt this was the gig of the year!
Gong were on fire, playing mainly songs from Camembert Electrique and Rejoice I'm Dead! to a Dome packed out with the Gong Family old and new it was a night to remember, a night I'm sure Daevid and Gilli smiled down upon.

So, this time I'm posting all my photo's rather than a select few, and a short poetic summation of my evening (As usual).

Gong at The Dome, Tufnell Park, London 23 11 16

Once more into London with a couple of hours to spare
A pint of Twickenham in the Sir John Betjeman
It’s been a while since I’ve been in there

A short hop down the tube to The Euston Tap
For a Bad Seed IPA and a House of Mirrors
Well fancy that!

Back on the tube to Tufnell Park where a gust of wind stole my hat
A shame but such things happen
Although I could have done without that!

A quick pint in the Boston before doors at seven at the Dome
And a wonderful gathering of the Gong Family
With Gong you’re never alone

Playing some amazing experimental psychedelic rock
The night got off to a really great start
Courtesy of Zofff

I met a load of good people including SpaceDogs, the band
Another highlight was when Kavus spotted me in the crowd
And raced over to shake my hand

Gong were truly magnificent, a word which for me says it all
Long live Gong



Getting ready for Gong


All rights reserved, words and pictures Copyright Grant Meaby November 2016.